This weekend, Florida Atlantic and UTSA open up conference play in Boca Raton. This is the first time the two teams have met and even though Boca and San Antonio are nothing like each other, the two programs share a youthful flare in comparison to the C-USA veterans. For this week, I have asked Jared Kalmus, our resident UTSA expert, to help answer a few questions about the Roadrunners.
1.) UTSA has experienced a good amount of media attention following their first three games this season. How is this team responding to the heightened expectations and do you believe they can win the C-USA championship this season?
Expectations from fans and the media are indeed high but I don't think anyone has expectations as high as the guys in the locker room. The 18 fifth-year seniors have dreamed of this season since UTSA football consisted of little more than hand-me-down equipment. The seniors have expressed lofty expectations for the past year so I don't think the heightened attention from outside of the program will surprise the players or staff. I do think UTSA has a great chance to win this conference, especially if Marshall pulls another blunder on the road this year, allowing UTSA to potentially host the conference championship game.
2.) Freshman Blake Bogenshutz took over for senior Tucker Carter in the Oklahoma State game due to injury. Who do you believe starts on Saturday against the Owls and who gives the Roadrunners the best chance to win?
Coach Coker has confirmed that Carter will be starting against FAU but who knows how short his leash will be? Carter has been decent this season but he hasn't been able to really piece everything together yet. A big reason for that is the level of competition he has faced. Bogenschutz is clearly the future of the program and looked extremely sharp against a Big 12 defense on the road. Since his redshirt has already been burned he will likely continue to play throughout this season. While I think Carter gives the team the best chance at winning there's certainly a great case to be made for the young'un. If Carter doesn't put up at least two touchdowns before the half we may see the Bogenschutz reign officially begin.
3.) Along with efficient quarterback play, UTSA has been able to keep up with teams this season due to a potent offense. Who are some of the other play-makers on the offensive side of the ball?
While the best player on offense is probably left guard Scott Inskeep, wide receiver Kam Jones, running back Jarveon Williams, and utility offensive weapon Brandon Armstrong are all very electric ball carriers with the speed to break open big plays. David Glasco has been very effective in the red zone and Aaron Grubb is always good for a few clutch first down catches. Tight end David Morgan has been the team's leading receiver this season and is an impossible match up for most defenders. If the offense continues to feed Morgan they should be able to keep the ball moving in the right direction.
4.) The Roadrunners kept a potent Houston offense to single digit points in the first game of the season. Do you see this team having defensive success against the Owls and who should FAU fans look out for specifically?
UTSA's defense had a mediocre outing against Oklahoma State but they were missing three key contributors in starting Dawg safety Nic Johnston, starting cornerback Crosby Adams and defensive tackle Richard Burge. All three have been cleared to play on Saturday so I'm anticipating the defense bouncing back in a big way against the Owls. If FAU is to have success on offense they will need to win the battle at the line of scrimmage against UTSA's deep and nasty defensive line. UTSA's secondary is its weak link but if the Roadrunners force the Owls to be one dimensional on offense then UTSA will be able to substitute coverage packages to bring more speed onto the field. The guy to look for up front is man child Jason Neill, a 6'2", 260 pound defensive end that has looked unblockable through the first few weeks of this season. Free safety Triston Wade is UTSA's biggest playmaker on defense. The undersized safety has a knack for causing turnovers and provides solid coverage over the top.
5.) Similar to FAU, the Roadrunners are coming off a loss. Although the circumstances may have been different, how is the team responding to being under .500 so early in the season?
From reading post-practice quotes from players this week it seems that the team is in good spirits and is focused on winning a conference championship. While the Roadrunners missed opportunities against Arizona and Oklahoma State, I think they proved to themselves that they can physically compete at a high level. From this week moving forward UTSA will finally have athletes on equal footing with their competition and the players are aware of that. With the experience and confidence boost of hanging around with a couple of top 30 teams, I think the Roadrunners are about to put a huge winning streak into motion.
6.) Finally, what is your prediction for the game on Saturday?
I'm thinking 34-21 UTSA. The Roadrunner offense should take a step forward on Saturday but I don't see them totally breaking out with a huge performance. I've been worried about this road trip for a while but I think FAU will still be on an emotional downswing after a heart-breaking loss to Wyoming followed by what must have been a depressing eight hour flight back home. After watching Charlie Partridge coach one of the worst fourth quarters I've ever seen, I've lost all confidence in him leading FAU to victory in close games.
To continue with our coverage of UTSA-FAU, I also answered a few questions for Jared. You can check that out later this week.